It has recently been reported that fruit flies (Drosophila melanogaster) form calcium oxalate crystals in their Malpighian tubules (equivalent to kidneys) if they are fed certain diets. Thus Drosophila are a good model for studying the genetics of stone disease. The Oxford Stone Group has developed a collaboration with Dr Tudor Fulga (Institute of Molecular Medicine, Oxford) to look further at the genetics of kidney stones using a fly model.
Our Senior EndoUrology fellow is working in Dr Fulga's laboratory with this fly model to investigate the genetic pathways that might be involved in stone disease.
Drosophila Excretory tubules Calcium oxalate crystals (Malpighian tubules) in tubules.
Calcium channel genetics
This research project aims to understand the tubular processes regulating calcium excretion. The approach is to study monogenetic disorders causing either hypercalcaemia or hypercalciuria and identify the molecular pathways resulting in this phenotype. This work is expected to lead to advances in our understanding of a number of clinical disorders that result in increased risk of developing kidney stone disease.
Sarah Howles is undertaking this research in the Nuffield Department of Clinical Medicine at OCDEM (Oxford Centre for Diabetes, Endocrinology and Metabolism), Churchill Hospital, studying under Professor Rajesh Thakker. Sarah studied medicine at Cambridge and Oxford Universities between 1999 and 2005. Since qualification she has worked in the Oxford region and entered the Urology training scheme in 2010. She has a research interest in the molecular mechanisms promoting renal stone disease and is a Wellcome Trust clinical training fellow.